Is the Nativity scene w/ baby Jesus and the three wise men accurate?
No, The Triditional nativity is inaccurate and here are some reasons why:
The Nativity scene, like many other holidays triditions or ritual have some mix of religion and folklore. As you’d expect, many popular depictions of the nativity have some inaccuracies that conflict with the story told in the Bible—the supposed presence of “three kings,” Jesus’s birth in a stable, a fair-skinned holy family. Some are relatively harmless—the understandable result of centuries of speculation, and artistic reinvention.
On the less troublesome side is the nativity setting itself, which is usually a cave or a little stable constructed of twigs and peat moss. A Bible passage describes how Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem to take part in the mandated census, but there “was no room for them in the inn.” But don’t let the English translation fool you: The word (kataluma) “inn” doesn’t refer to some kind of first-century hotel (pandocheion- Luke 10:34), but rather something like a guest room for visitors. The Bible does say that Jesus was laid in a manger, and in poorer places like Bethlehem, animals were brought into the lower level of homes at night to keep them safe from bandits.
So, the most likely scenario is that Jesus was born in the home of relatives somewhere on the moss-less lower level of the house where animals were often kept. Admittedly, it makes for a less compelling scene than the one most nativities capture, but it’s possible there were no animals present at Jesus’s birth.
The most common animal in most nativities is a donkey, which is based on the popular image of the virgin Mary riding the back of the beast and being led solely by her husband Joseph. Yet the Bible doesn’t say which mode of transportation they used. Scholars think Mary may have ridden a donkey due to her and Joseph’s meager economic means, but it’s also likely that they traveled in a caravan, which was common and much safer than traveling alone.
The human characters in nativity sets pose even more problems than the animals. Many nativities feature a trinity of monarchs dressed in silk robes, elaborate turbans, and gaudy gold jewelry. But the Bible says only that “magi from the east” followed a strange star to visit the infant child. The word “magi” or “Wiseman” originally referred to a class of priests, probably from Persia. They were often students of astrology, which accounts for why they noticed a galactic anomaly to begin with. If Jesus’s visitors had been royalty, the Gospel writers would likely have included such a detail. Instead, Renaissance artworks depicting king-like figures at Jesus’s birth likely contributed to this misrepresentation.
It’s also unclear how many magi there were and when they see Jesus. The Bible says these Wiseman brought three gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh—which may have led to the idea that there were three. Some Christian tradition has even given these “three kings” names: Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar, but all of this is conjecture. The Gospel of Matthew (2:11)make us question the nativity "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:"
Presumably cultural traditions shift over time—especially those whose origins date back millennia. So, it’s understandable that the standard nativity scene today has some dubious inaccuracies. Yes, the gist of the scene is all there, but in replicating these moments year after year, there’s a risk in accepting subtle inaccuracies and convenient assumptions as historical fact. When it comes to donkeys or stables, the stakes seem low, but rituals both big and small, religious or otherwise, deserve scrutiny.
ref: The Atlantic article:/ Strong's Exhaaustive Concordance of the Bible:/ King James Bible:/
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